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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CIA Warns of a 'Greater Assertiveness' From Russia

WASHINGTON -- The Central Intelligence Agency is warning of a "greater assertiveness" on the part of Russia if President Vladimir Putin wins re-election as expected Sunday.

A new CIA assessment made public last week says that such assertiveness is likely to be evident both at home and abroad, with Russia's tough stance in the war on Chechnya unlikely to soften and with a more robust approach toward neighboring countries like Georgia and Ukraine backed up by the increasing stakes taken by Russian companies in those countries' energy industries.

The assessment says the assertiveness would be backed up by Russia's improving military capacities, but it describes the possible aims as "limited" and says Putin "has a stake in relative stability on Russia's borders."

The re-election of Putin to a second four-year term would be the culmination of a process that has recentralized power in the Kremlin, including a domination of news organizations, according to the assessment, which was presented to Congress last week. This "may bolster trends toward limits on civil society" and toward state interference in big business, the assessment said.

A second assessment, by the Defense Intelligence Agency, also presented to Congress, portrays Russia as "attempting to reclaim great power status" under Putin, in part through increased military activity and defense spending. It said that military exercises conducted by ground forces in 2003 had been at a rate twice that of 2002.

CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "on balance" Russia's relations with the United States were "more cooperative than not."

Still, Tenet said, "the coming year will present serious challenges."